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What We Were Reading in 2014

Though we’re not a public library, sometimes we get asked about what types of items were charged out the most. Of course, those may not always be the most popular items. So, taking a look back at the rapidly fading year 2014, finds the New York Times bestseller, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, charged out as many times as any of our works. This is followed by perennial favorites, such as the The Holy Bible: New International Version-Containing the Old Testament and the New Testament, Oxford Spanish Dictionary, Mckay’s Modern Italian-English and English-Italian Dictionary, The Grammar Book: an ESL/EFL Teacher’s Course, Advanced Engineering Mathematics, The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution (now also online), Phaedo, Catch-22, Ulysses, Lolita, Beloved: a novel and Catcher in the Rye.

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Popular this year too was the New York Times bestseller Flash Boys, followed by titles such as Gone Girl: a novel, the Gabriel García Márquez novel, El Coronel No Tiene Quien le Escriba, All Names Have Been Changed, Organic Chemistry as a Second Language: First Semester Topics (second semester topics not as popular), Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2014), The Fault in Our Stars, and The Laramie Project.

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Popular leisure reading material this year can be summed up in one sentence (more or less): Good News, for the Best of Me, in America’s Great Game, don’t Blink but Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That since 1345, or do you want a Casual Vacancy because you’ll have No Easy Day if you’re an Alchemist, English German Girl or a Racketeer.

Some of the most selected movies this year include perennial favorites like Citizen Kane; Groundhog Day; 2001, A Space Odyssey; and The Tree of Life. Other movies, The Corporation, Taxi to the Dark Side, Adaptation, Nun’s Story and La Jetée Sans Soleil were also charged out several times.

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Very requested subjects and books borrowed through our interlibrary loan and E-ZBorrow services were The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, The Goldfinch: a Novel, and books about counseling, statistics, public speaking and science fiction.

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Happy holidays from all of us to all of you – and we hope Santa puts some of your favorite reading material in your stocking. But if not, you know the first place to visit once you get back on campus! Click here for Christmas and New Year break hours.

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The Library Invites Intellectual Property Lawyer, Statistics Education Director and You to Discuss “Open Access” Issues

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Join us this week for Open Access Week events,
and we welcome your response to our survey below!

Open Access Week is a global event for inspiring the academic community to advance the open-access movement. Open access embraces two key complimentary ideas: scholarship should be freely available on the web, AND it should be free of permission barriers for legitimate uses. The Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002) is probably the most often quoted definition of “open access”:

By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

Since that definition was penned, much progress has been made by individual scholars, universities, scholarly societies, publishers and national and international bodies for making open access to scholarship a reality. So many journals have gone or been established as open access that we need a Directory of Open Access Journals. Furthermore, traditional subscription journal publishers such as Taylor & Frances, Wiley, Springer and Elsevier offer authors fee-based options to make their articles open access, what some might consider an effort to co-opt the open-access movement. Institutional repositories for archiving all forms of scholarship from articles to data and born digital artifacts, many open, have proliferated on campuses big and small around the globe.

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Additionally, open access mandates by funders requiring that the results of research be made publically available for free are becoming the norm (for a database of funder mandates see SHERPA/JUIET).  Faculties at top universities such as Harvard University,  Duke University and the University of California System have adopted institutional  open access policies which typically address depositing scholarship in an institutional repository and granting rights to scholarship (See Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions.)

Open Access Week is a good time to examine your thoughts on how open access impacts your own scholarly practice and what initiatives you would like to see Villanova University take regarding to open access. The best way to do that is by joining a conversation or by taking our open access survey!

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Falvey Memorial Library and the Office of Research and Graduate Programs will participate in Open Access Week with two events, both lunch hour brown bag participatory lectures. On Tuesday, Oct. 21, 1-2 p.m., in Falvey room 204, Michael Posner, PhD, director, Center for Statistics Education and Linda Hauck, business liaison librarian, will discuss “Open Data Trends: Policies, Privacy and Preserving Data Integrity.”

Posner, Hauck, Leytes, Fogle

Posner, Hauck, Leytes, Fogle

On Friday, Oct. 24, 1-2 p.m., in room 205, Dina Leytes, practice group chair, Intellectual Property and New Media, at Griesing Law, LLC, and Nikolaus Fogle, subject librarian for philosophy, will discuss “Author Rights: When and How Can You Archive, Share and Own Your Published Work?”

Open Access Week is an international event being held for the eighth time. It provides “an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of open access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make open access a new norm in scholarship and research.”

To learn more about open access from local viewpoints, attend one or both of the events to be held in Falvey on Oct. 21 and 24.


Article by Linda Hauck, MS, MBA, (pictured) business librarian and team coordinator for the Business Research team.

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‘Cat in the CAVE

CAT-STAX

 I’m Michelle Callaghan, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our new column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.


CAVEToday at 2:00, Villanova’s CAVE is officially open. In honor of opening day, this week’s blog post will be all about immersive virtual reality—for those of us who might not even know where to begin thinking about the creative and academic applications of virtual environments.

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert. I’m a virtual reality noob. I’m writing this with no in-depth technical expertise—just a whole lot of geeky excitement. But I do play (and, by way of literary theory, study) video games, and my personal interest in virtual reality’s possible applications is heavily biased towards, well, play. And by “play” I don’t mean to imply the installment is only for entertainment (nor do I think its entertainment and audio/visual/tactile immersion possibilities should be minimized, especially for the arts and humanities). I mean “play” as in stepping inside a world and getting your hands virtually dirty, like a kid in a sandbox.

But before we talk Earth science and data visualization, whet your VR palette with the incredibly cool Tilt Brush (aka “Microsoft Paint for the Year 2020”).

Oculus_vs_Morpheus-740x580-580x450Depending on your hobbies, you might have already heard about the VR movement in video games a la Oculus Rift  and Project Morpheus. These are headset-based immersive mechanisms, while the CAVE is quite literally a virtually immersive walk-in cave. Still, if you want to explore discussion of virtually reality without scholarly pressure, the gaming community is a good place to start.

If you feel like you’re ready to brave the technical background and scholarly applications of virtual reality, The Verge posted a feature video on The Virtual Reality CAVE, featuring UC Davis’s setup, KeckCAVES. A little digging into UC Davis’s ongoing projects, which include applications in Earth science, data visualization, and responsive media, is a fun way to get your feet wet!

Based on a little internet reading, the possibilities of virtual reality in scholarly, scientific and creative application are innumerable—but are not all fully realized, or even drafted. And that’s the cool part: if this is the forefront of a new wave, this is your chance to brainstorm, too.

How could you imagine immersive virtual reality used in your field of study?

 


Michelle Callaghan, Graduate Assistant, Communication and ServicArticle by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.

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Villanova’s Automatic Virtual Environment Opens Oct. 2

Imagine stepping into a room-sized enclosure, donning a pair of 3D glasses, and having the experience of touring the basilicas in Rome or exploring Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary or standing in the Sistine Chapel—all without leaving the Library. Well, technically Falvey Hall, which was the Villanova College Library before Falvey Memorial Library was built, will house this new facility, called the Villanova CAVE.

What does CAVE mean?

CAVE stands for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment. You may be asking, “Then, what does that “Cave” stand for?” MerriamWebster.com has your answer. The University’s version of this technology is called “the Villanova CAVE.

The Villanova CAVE allows participants to become virtually immersed in a setting in which they can move about and even walk to either side of the 3D image of an object, such as a statue or sign, as though they were in the actual setting. For historical sites that have begun to deteriorate, such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, it preserves them for posterity. For sites of limited space, such as the Santa Rosa Necropolis under Vatican City that cannot accommodate large groups, the Villanova CAVE allows 10-15 people at a time to examine that location.

How does it work?

The Villanova CAVE enclosure—18’ wide, 10’ deep, 7.5’ high—has scrims that form three of its walls and a ceiling. These scrims, rear-projected HD screens, display a unified 3D image.

The Villanova CAVE can also be configured to display a 3D image on three walls and its floor, instead of its ceiling. To minimize shadows from viewers, strategically placed projectors create the floor imagery. An opening, where the fourth wall would be, gives users access to the CAVE. Users wear 3D glasses to achieve an immersive experience. The Villanova CAVE also includes sound.

In addition to the CAVE’s capability to display images and video, this immersive studies system will, in the future, also include a multi-camera component for capturing images and video. Assistant Professor and Director Engineering Entrepreneurship Edmond Dougherty is constructing a robotic camera unit that will not only record images and video but also stream live, immersive video into the Villanova CAVE. This unit will hold several cameras mounted in a spherical array (software combines the cameras’ input into a single 3D image or video). This camera unit includes lights and microphones.

How will this system benefit Villanova?

University professors will have the ability to record artifacts, settings, and events to be studied—unencumbered by distance, climate, or time of day—by their students on campus. Faculty may also include such recordings when developing their course curriculums.

Non-Villanova researchers, aka “off-campus collaborators,” will have the opportunity to access to this immersive studies system for their own research projects. This collaboration with non-Villanova researchers illustrates a trend in which academic libraries provide environments called “collaboratories.”

Speaking of collaboration, Frank Klassner, PhD, associate professor of computing sciences and director of the University’s Center of Excellence in Enterprise Technology (CEET) teamed up with Professor Dougherty and then-Library-Director Joe Lucia to write the proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF). Together they garnered a $1.67 million NSF grant: “the largest NSF research grant ever awarded to the University.”


Gerald info deskArticle by Gerald Dierkes, senior copy-editor for the Communication and Service Promotion team and a liaison to the Department of Theater.

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Don’t miss the Grand Opening of The CAVE this Thursday!

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On Thursday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m., join us for the grand opening of Villanova’s CAVE Facility in Falvey Memorial Library. The CAVE, an immersive virtual reality environment, is an interdisciplinary venture among investigators from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering and Falvey Memorial Library. The facility will provide Villanova’s faculty and students with many research and educational possibilities.

Next best thing to being in The Cave! Click on below link to view logo in action.

Next best thing to being in The Cave! Click on below link to view logo in action.

Click here to observe a sample effect of the CAVE in action. It is supported by a $1.67 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Light refreshments will be served and tours will run throughout the afternoon.

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Panama Canal Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary!

Panoramic image of the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal from the Library of Congress  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007663303/

Panoramic image of the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal from the Library of Congress. (Click on image to enlarge.)

The Panama Canal celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. The 50-miles-long canal across the Isthmus of Panama officially opened on August 15, 1914, although a French crane boat, Alexandre La Valley, had already traveled the Canal’s full length from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, completing its journey on January 7, 1914. However, the Alexandre La Valley had traversed the Canal in stages during the Canal’s construction. On August 4 the SS Cristobal, cargo steam ship, made a test run through the Canal.

Sadly, the official opening held on August 15 was overshadowed by Germany’s invasion of Belgium on August 4, followed by Great Britain declaring war that evening. The grand celebration planned to mark the completion of the most expensive construction project funded by the United States became a modest, local event. No international dignitaries attended the ceremony.

William Howard Taft, half length, standing, facing right, with Col. George Washington Goethals and others, in Panama, 1910. Image from the Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3b01935/

William Howard Taft and Col. George Washington Goethals, 1910.
Image from the Library of Congress.
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3b01935/

The first civil governor of the Canal Zone, Major George Washington Goethals (1858-1928), who had served as the chief engineer for the Canal (1907-1914), observed the passage of the first ship through the Canal on opening day. Bellisario Porras, the president of Panama also attended the opening. A steamship, the SS Ancon, used by the Panama Railway to carry supplies for the Canal’s construction, made the first official transit of the Panama Canal on the opening day; Captain John A. Constantine piloted the SS Ancon’s passage through the Canal. The Ancon’s captain was G.E. Sukeforth. The toll charged the SS Ancon for its use of the Canal was 90 cents per cargo ton.

Editorial cartoon featuring Theodore Roosevelt  from Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2013651586/

Editorial cartoon featuring Theodore Roosevelt
from Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2013651586/

In 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt had declared the need for a canal in Central America to join the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He was not the first American president to see the need for a canal. In 1869 Ulysses S. Grant created the Inter-Oceanic Canal Commission and sent an expedition to explore possible routes for a canal. However, Grant’s hopes were not realized. Even earlier, in 1839, an anonymous author wrote two articles published in The Democratic Review advocating the construction of a “Ship Canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.”

On November 18, 1903, the United States signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty (Canal Treaty) in Panama; the treaty gave the U.S. the right to build a canal in return for an annual payment of $250,000. In June 1904 the Americans began their construction and the Panama Canal was completed in 1914, two years ahead of schedule.

Construction of the Panama Canal cost the United States about $375 million dollars. Of this, $10 million was paid to Panama and $40 million paid to the French company, Compagnie Nouvelle, which had begun construction of the Canal in 1879. In 1915, the year after construction was completed, the Panama Canal earned approximately $4 million in tolls. The building of the Canal under American administration cost about 5,600 lives, although the majority of these were not Americans.

Don't miss the various live webcams from the Panama Canal

Don’t miss the various live webcams from the Panama Canal

It takes eight to ten hours for a ship to travel the length of the Canal, and about three of those hours are spent going through its locks. (According to dictionary.com, a lock is “an enclosed chamber in a canal … with gates at each end, for raising or lowering vessels from one level to another by admitting or releasing water.”)

Tolls are determined by the size and weight of the ship and its cargo capacity or, for passenger ships, by the number of berths. For current tolls see www.pancanal.com. Since the 1970s many cargo ships have become too large to use the Canal, and beginning around 2001 suggestions were made to expand the Canal. In 2007 construction began, dredging the existing canal and constructing additional larger locks. The project is expected to be completed in 2015 at a cost of $5.25 million dollars.

In 1977 President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty giving the Canal to Panama. Under Panama’s ACP, the state-owned agency, tolls have increased, traffic through the Canal has grown and service has improved.

Dig Deeper:

Official Panama Canal website

Panama Canal Timeline

Panama Canal Museum

Selected Falvey resources:

Center of Military History. The Panama Canal: An Army’s Enterprise (2009)

Panama’s Canal: What Happens When the United States Gives a Small Country What It Wants. (1998)

Panama Fever: The Epic Story of One of the Greatest Human Achievements of All Time – The Building of the Panama Canal. (2007)

Considerations on the subject of a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by means of a ship-canal … (1836)

“Two Articles on the Projected Ship Canal to Connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.” Reprinted from The Democratic Review for October and November, 1839. Washington, 1839.

Expansion of the Canal:

United States Maritime Administration. Panama Canal Expansion Study: Phase I Report, Developments in Trade and National and Global Economies. (2013)

“The Panama Canal: A Plan to Unlock Prosperity.” The Economist, 03 December 2009.

“Agreement reached on Panama Canal dispute.” 04 August 2014.


imagesArticle by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Service Promotion team. 

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DOE Open Data Plan Released

dept energyThe Department of Energy is among the top funders of research conducted by Villanova faculty across several University departments. It is also a first mover among federal-research-granting agencies in establishing policies, procedures and infrastructure to comply with the Office of Science and Technology Policy mandate to enhance access to federally funded research. This week it released its Public Access Plan.

The Plan covers access to both published papers and underlying data. Classified data and scholarly research are exempt from the policy. The DOE will build a public portal called PAGES (Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science) and maintain a dark archive to assure long term access. The DOE will deploy a two pronged approach to making data more accessible. Through a review of data management plans, a cost-benefit analysis will be applied to identify data worth preserving and making public. Data will be submitted and made public via the Open Energy Information Platform, OpenEI, and further exposed to the public via data.gov.

linked open data

This new policy will impact Villanova energy researchers. Principal investigators (PI) will need to submit open access links to articles (or the manuscripts themselves) and metadata for their publications for inclusion in PAGES. Data management plans may come under intensified scrutiny, and data the DOE identifies for inclusion in OpenEI will need to be submitted by the PI with metadata. As these repositories are built and populated, benefits should accrue to Villanova researchers as their good work receives increased public exposure and as they enjoy enhanced access to the research of their peers.

The Library can assist with the additional duties PI face by providing metadata assistance. Library catalogers are expert at parsing metadata schemas and applying them to unique objects. David Burke is the primary library contact for metadata services.

Images from Energy.gov


imagesArticle by Linda Hauck, MS, MBA, (pictured) business librarian and team coordinator for the Business Research team.

 

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Mendel’s Peas: From Garden to Table

When I surveyed the space in my garden this year, I wondered if there might be enough room for peas. Having never grown them before, I wasn’t sure which variety to buy. There must have been 25 different types of pea seeds for sale at our local Home Depot. Searching online only made matters worse; the list expanded to 45. Did I want “Dark Seeded Early Perfection” or “Green Arrow?” Or should I choose “Little Marvels” or “Summer Love Mix?” The names started sounding like so many beat poetry titles.

Then I had to choose between organic and traditional seeds. And what about plant height and seed spacing? How many plants could I fit into 3 square feet of garden? I finally settled on the Maestro variety (I liked the allusion to music), and got the seeds into the ground in mid-May. Instead of buying a factory-made trellis, my daughter helped me erect one using sticks we gathered from the surrounding woods.

pea sproutspea seedlingspea plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I waited for sprouts to emerge, I noticed that someone or something was cutting the string on the trellis. Thinking it was a rodent, I sprinkled cayenne pepper on the leaves and on the ground. That stopped the bad rodent behavior, but I then noticed a new phenomenon. Small, black ants were carrying the specks of cayenne away, one by one. Who knew that ants like cayenne pepper?

Too bad I didn’t have Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian friar and the father of genetics, around to explain the subtleties of pea gardening. He must have encountered at least some of the same challenges of gardening that I did. I’d like to think my peas would go into the perfect dish to serve at Mendel’s birthday party (July 20). In fact, I’m going to name this recipe after him.

Back in the garden, I had harvested about 30 pods, enough for one serving. Now what? I would need more than that to make Mendel Macaroni Salad. So, I decided to supplement with some store bought organic petite peas.

pea ingredientsThis wasn’t your mother’s macaroni salad. I based my recipe on The Cozy Apron version. It would be easy and a little bit different. I had everything on hand except the pancetta, so I did what most cooks do, I substituted.

Mendel Macaroni Salad with Lemon Thyme Dressing

12 oz macaroni pasta, cooked and cooled
1cup frozen petite peas, thawed (I mixed in the fresh peas from my garden.)
4 oz diced and crisped pancetta (I substituted with a mix of thick sliced bacon and deli ham.)
• Lemon-Thyme Dressing (recipe below)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, for garnish (I used thyme from my box garden.)

-Add the cooked and cooled macaroni to a large bowl, and add in the thawed petite peas and the diced, crisped pancetta; if serving immediately, toss with the Lemon-Thyme Dressing, and garnish with the thyme leaves; if making ahead, prepare all components and keep them separate, then toss the dressing with the pasta/peas/pancetta when ready to serve, to keep the pasta salad moist and fresh; keep cold.

Lemon-Thyme Dressing ingredients:

¾ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar  (I used a bit less, 1 tbsp., and it tasted fine.)
1 ½ teaspoons salt  (I reduced the salt to 1 tsp. since I added bacon & ham.)
1 teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

-Add all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. (I used an immersion blender, which made it possible to mix the dressing in a large glass measuring cup. Anything to reduce the amount of dishes to wash!) Process the mixture until thick and completely creamy; store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the salad, at which point you can toss the dressing with the pasta. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme.

pea salad

If you’re looking for more “pea-tastic” summer recipes, try these links.  (Some of them are easy peasy.)

The Smitten Kitchen (Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad)

MyRecipes.com (Sweet Pea Risotto with Corn Broth)

Live Simply (Spring Quinoa with Peas and Corn)

Vegetarian Times (Curried Potatoes with Cauliflower and Peas)

If you’re interested in reading more about Gregor Mendel, try these resources.Mendel statue peas

Gregor Mendel: the friar who grew peas (Special Collections)

Gregor Mendel: planting the seeds of genetics (Special Collections)

Solitude of a Humble Genius: Gregor Johann Mendel – Volume One, Formative Years (Online)

The Monk in the Garden: the lost and found genius of Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics

Gregor Johann Mendel (Image of Mendel’s statue at Villanova University)

 

Article by Luisa Cywinski, editorial coordinator for the Communication & Service Promotion team and leader of the Access Services team.

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Happy Birthday, Gregor Johann Mendel

MENDEL tr

Today is the 192nd anniversary of the birth of Gregor Johann Mendel, a V.I A. (very important Augustinian) here at Villanova and a great day to visit one of the most beautiful corners of campus, tucked right behind the library!

On the plaza to the right of the east entrance to Mendel Science Center, there stands a seven feet tall, cast bronze statue of Gregor Johann Mendel (1822 – 1884), the Augustinian priest who discovered the laws of heredity by studying peas, and the scientist for whom the Science Center is named. Suitably enough, the statue is surrounded in a blaze of fuchia crepe myrtle each year in time for the great geneticist’s birthday. The sculptor, James Peniston, signed and dated his work on the lower back right (as one faces the same way as does Mendel).

Peniston, who lives and works in Philadelphia, tells how he came to create the statue in 1998, “There’s one [of my sculptures] at Villanova University, a sculpture of Gregor Mendel that the monks commissioned to stand in front of their science center. They came to the foundry where I worked – Laran Bronze in Chester – and asked if anyone could sculpt a 7-foot figure in two months. And the foundry owners asked me whether I could, and I said, of course I can. Then I had to figure out how to do it!”

“One of the challenges of the Mendel was drapery robes. For reference, I studied some of the sculptures down along the Schuylkill River, along Kelly Drive. They have some really fine robes and capes.”

DSC_2131

Artists have made cast bronze sculptures throughout the history of art, at least since the time of the Ancient Greeks. If you look closely at Villanova’s statue of Gregor Johann Mendel, you can see the marks of the sculptor’s tools which he used to shape the clay model for the statue.

For more on Peniston, click here. And to see Peniston’s explanation for bronze casting see here. For more information about the Mendel statue see here. And for much more for about Mendel go here. And don’t miss tomorrow’s blog for a delicious way to serve those peas once you’ve finished cross-breeding them!

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Don’t be a Buzzkill – Help Save the Bees!

BEE

Busy on the coreopsis in front of the Chapel.

His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

- From “The Bee,” by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Although we may not necessarily think of the summer season as a time for work, we depend greatly upon one sweet friend to humankind that is always keeping busy in the sun – the honeybee. We use the Chaucerian phrase “busy as a bee” because these insects commonly fly three to four miles a day (although it can be twice as much) to gather pollen and nectar. It is estimated that a one pound jar of honey requires almost 10 million foraging trips to produce it. That’s pretty busy! Unfortunately, these gentle beings are often confused with more aggressive insects like certain hornets and wasps (learn how to tell the difference), so don’t fear if a honeybee lands on you. Stay calm and it will carry on. Otherwise, it can smell the pheromones that are released when we experience fear and anger; these can become a trigger for bees to sting.

Bees and honey have featured prominently in mythology, religion, birth rituals, weddings, funerals, traditions and superstitions for millennia. The ancient Greeks believed that a baby whose lips were anointed with honey would become a great poet or a mellifluous speaker. The Roman poet Virgil called honey “a gift from heaven” (Georgics, IV) for very good reasons becaluse honey not only tastes divine, but also contains many nutritional and medicinal properties. Gathering wild honey is one of the most ancient human practices, as rock paintings from circa 13,000 BCE indicate. However, there is a relatively recent phenomenon that is threatening the well-being of the honeybee and the viability of current agricultural practices.

In 2006, a syndrome called colony collapse disorder (CCD) was widely publicized because of a significant rise in the disappearances of honeybee colonies. In short, CCD is “a pathological condition affecting a large number of honeybee colonies, in which various stresses may lead to the abrupt disappearance of worker bees from the hive, leaving only the queen and newly hatched bees behind and thus causing the colony to stop functioning” (Dictionary.com). Although the exact causes remain unknown, scientists have proposed pesticides, mite infection, malnutrition, genetic factors, loss of habitat, changing beekeeping practices, or a combination of the above for the increasing occurrence of CCD.

beeportAs we depend upon these pollinators for many domestic crops, it is imaginable that we could live in a world without about a third of the food we are accustomed to eating. Although the disappearance of colonies has occurred in the past, it has not been on such a scale as in 2012-2013, when about half of the honeybee hives in the United States were thought to have been lost to CCD. Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, predicted in a 1923 lecture that, if we continued to disturb the natural process of hive society and manipulate queen bees, a mass disappearance would occur within 80 years. Unfortunately, it appears that his prediction is coming true.

While research continues to expand our understanding of CCD, there are many ways we can help support the honeybee community and our own well-being. Below is a list of resources available online and at Falvey Memorial Library to help you become more bee-friendly.

Dig Deeper: Resources for You and the Honeybee

Online Resources

10 Things You Can Do to Help!

10 More Things You Can Do to Help!

Two lists of easy things you can do to make a difference. Whether it’s abstaining from chemical and pesticide treatments on your lawn, planting a few flowers, buying local, organic food and honey, or setting out a birdbath or bee-waterer, there are many ways you can combat the global bee crisis on a local level.

Queen of the Sun (DVD)

“Taking us on a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, this engaging and ultimately uplifting film weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heartfelt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world including Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva. Together they reveal both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.”

Find a copy in your area today with WorldCat or through one of our interlibrary loan services.

Best Bee Plants

Make your garden, outdoor containers, or windowsill planter bee-friendly! This list of beneficial plants includes everything from traditional garden flowers, fruits, and herbs to trees, shrubs, lawn tips, and more. The site also provides instruction on making difficult gardening conditions (e.g. clay soil) fruitful and eco-friendly.

Resources at Falvey

The Honey Bee 

This is a highly accessible and well-written Scientific American Library Series book by renowned author James L. Gould and his wife. Gould is known for the experiment he conducted that demonstrated how bees can communicate the location of food to other bees through a complex dance system.

Anatomy of the Honeybee 

Written and illustrated by R. E. Snodgrass, this is the classic text on the anatomy of the honeybee.

Colony Collapse Disorder: A Descriptive Study

This scholarly article is the first comprehensive survey of CCD-affected bee populations.

The Colony Collapse Disorder Progress Report

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s internal agency ARS (Agricultural Research Service) has published an annual progress report as they strive to increase our understanding of CCD as well as to promote more sustainable bee management practices.

Feel free to contact me by email alexander.williams@villanova.edu or phone (ext. 8845) if you have any questions. You are always welcome to leave a comment below, too.

 


Alex Williams theology liaisonAlexander Williams, ’11 MA, MS is the temporary librarian liaison to the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and a research librarian on the Academic Integration and the Information and Research Assistance teams. Bee photos by Joanne Quinn.

Our Dig Deeper series features links to Falvey Memorial Library resources curated and provided by a librarian specializing in the subject, to allow you to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of seasonal occasions and events held here at the Library. Don’t hesitate to ‘ask us!’ if you’d like to take the excavation even further. And visit our Events listings for more exciting upcoming speakers, lectures and workshops! 

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Last Modified: June 30, 2014